Canning peaches is one of my favorite mid-summer kitchen projects. Okay, the process itself is somewhat involved as far as canning goes, and it turns your kitchen into a sticky mess. Still, it’s quite satisfying to see those cans of beautifully colored peaches lining the pantry shelves. They’re so pretty, I almost hate to eat them. Good thing they taste so good, or I would go through all that effort for nothing!
Another benefit of knowing how to can peaches is that you can buy the fruit in season fairly cheaply, can it or freeze it, and enjoy it all year round, even when the price of peaches…canned, fresh, or frozen…is astronomical! Someday, I hope to be able to harvest peaches from my own property, but until then, buying them at $1 per pound is pretty good.
I should note that the grocery store guy looked at me as if I were slightly strange when I asked if I could buy a whole box of peaches, but he eventually accommodated me, only for me to completely confuse the poor ladies at the checkout counter. (It took three of them to figure out how to ring up my box of peaches, and I think they were silently cursing the produce guy for agreeing to box the peaches for me!) Still, I walked out of the store with 25 pounds of peaches for $25. Pretty good deal.
If you buy a box of peaches and discover that a few of the peaches are a little too ripe, just eat them right away, a project my kids happily helped me with. If, on the other hand, the peaches aren’t quite ripe, put a very ripe banana in the box and let it sit overnight. The peaches should be perfect for canning the next day. Note that you want your peaches to be mostly firm, with just a slight softness when you gently squeeze them.
Now that your fruit is ripe and ready, here’s how to can peaches in a step-by-step tutorial.
Step 1: Prepare your canning supplies. You’ll need the following:
- Water-bath canner [Note: my canner is a combination pressure/water bath canner that converts easily, depending on what I’m canning, but you can also buy a cheaper, water bath canner if you choose.]
- Pot for boiling lids
- Electric kettle to keep boiling water handy
- Canning jars, lids, and bands
- Canning accessories, including a timer, funnel, a combination bubble remover and magnetic lid lifter, kitchen tongs, and a jar lifter
- Stock pot to blanch the peaches
- Large bowl filled with ice water to shock the peaches after boiling
- A saucepan in which to make the hot syrup, along with several cups of sugar, depending on how many peaches you plan to can
- Bowl to collect all the peach peelings
- Bowl filled with water and either lemon juice or Fruit Fresh to keep the peaches from browning
(I told you it was quite the process!)
Step 2: Fill the canner with water to the lower water-fill line, fill the stock pot with hot water and set to boil in order to blanch the peaches, and fill the electric kettle with water and set to boil to sanitize your canning jars.
Step 3: Make a packing syrup. You can choose anywhere from very light to heavy syrup. I chose a medium syrup, with 3 cups of sugar per quart of water. Heat the water and slowly add the sugar, stirring until it is dissolved. Keep the syrup simmering while you continue with Step 4.
Step 4: Wash and drain the peaches, then boil them for 1 minute in the stock pot filled with boiling water.
Step 5: Shock the peaches in the large bowl of ice water.
Step 6: Peel, cut, core, and slice the peaches. After boiling and shocking the peaches, the peeling should fall right off with some gentle rubbing. I can my peaches in halves, although you can cut them into slices if you desire.
Step 7: Plop the cut peaches in the bowl filled with water and lemon juice or Fruit Fresh. This will keep the peaches from browning as you can them. (For specific amounts, see the package of Fruit Fresh. I have also seen people use up to ¼ cup lemon juice per quart of water.)
Step 8: Place the cut peaches in the hot syrup. This is known as a hot-packing method, which I prefer. While the peaches are warming in the syrup, pour boiling water from the electric kettle into your waiting jars.
Step 9: Working with one jar at a time, pour out the water and fill the jar with hot peaches. I like to place the peaches in the jar so that the rounded part of the peach faces outward, with the pit side toward the middle of the jar. They’ll can okay even if you just plop them in “willy nilly,” but they won’t be as pretty sitting on your shelf! 🙂 Top off the jar with syrup, leaving at least ½ inch headspace, then slide the bubble remover down each side of the jar to remove bubbles.
Step 10: Wipe the top and lip of the jar with a clean cloth, grab the lid and band, affix them to the filled jar, and place the jar in the canner filled with hot water.
Step 11: After filling the canner with all the jars of peaches, bring the water back to a full boil, cover, and process pints 20 minutes; quarts, 25 minutes. (Canning times vary at different altitudes, so be sure to check the directions that came with your canner. Otherwise, you can confirm the processing time, and get some additional canning tips, here.
Step 12: After the processing is finished, let the cans sit in the water for five minutes before removing from the canner. Set the jars on a clean cloth on the counter and wait to hear the lids “pop” as they seal. Once all the jars (hopefully!) have sealed, let the jars cool completely, then remove the bands, apply a label identifying the contents and date, and store your peaches in the pantry, ready for eating all year long!
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